Behind Classroom Code Switching: Layering and Language Choice in L2 Learner Interaction

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TESOL Quarterly vol 31, No 2. Summer 1997

This article examines the code switching that goes on during group work in language classes in which the learners share an L1. The author argues that the discourse produced in these circumstances is layered as a result of the participants' oscillating between a literal and a nonliteral frame (Goffman, 1974). Discourse produced in the literal frame is termed off-record and is concerned with negotiation between the learners. Discourse in the nonliteral frame is on-record and is performed to be overheard by a referee (a potential L2 audience). The author suggests that the significance of language choice behaviour differs across these two levels, and teachers concerned with increasing the quantity and quality of L2 production in group work must take this difference into account.

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